Ural Federal University: University Scientists Work on Functional Foods


Chemists from UrFU work on the development of products enriched with biologically active substances. They extract biologically active substances from vegetable raw materials and waste products of food production. Scientists enrich everyday foods with these active compounds, giving the food the functional properties necessary for preventive medicine and the treatment of socially significant diseases. Extraction of useful substances is carried out with the help of natural deep eutectic solvents, which are not toxic for the body and are safe for the environment. Elena Kovaleva, Professor of the Department of Technology of Organic Synthesis, Head of the Laboratory of Biotransformation Technologies and Food Chemistry at UrFU, told about this on the air of Komsomolskaya Pravda radio.

“Today we consume very few nutrients with food. Our task, therefore, is to develop products that will compensate for this deficiency, to fulfill a protective or healing function in the body. We extract nutrients from plants, such as kudzu roots, or food waste, such as soy molasses, and enrich various products, such as cheese, milk yogurt, bread or even beer. These substances have complex effects: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic, metabolism-enhancing. We add them to food so that they are better absorbed, and they also work more actively in the body in contrast to dietary supplements,” explains Kovaleva.

Scientists extract isoflavonoids, astaxanthin, bioiodine, bioselenium, resveratrol, vitamins B and D and other substances the body needs to function properly. The compounds are created with regard to daily intake norms, so their consumption is safe for the human body. One of the newest areas of research is the extraction of bioactive peptides from algae to prevent the development of cancer and other socially significant diseases. The extracted compounds are being tested in vivo by scientists from the N.N. Petrov Research Center for Oncology (St. Petersburg, Russia) – both on benign and malignant cancerous tumors – and note the high efficacy of the extracted substances.

“Preclinical trials are now underway. We check how the extracted compounds fight cancer cells, we see that they work. However, in order for any product enriched with our substances to hit the shelves, we also need a stage of clinical trials, transferring the scientific methodology into a large technological process. This requires customers, representatives of business. We hope that modern trends aimed at health care and preventive medicine will attract attention to our developments, and we will be able to produce functional foods for mass consumption,” adds Elena Kovaleva.

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